It’s a good day when the Yankees get to extend their division lead. Even better when they do it after a win against the Red Sox. Great pitching by Michael Pineda and some power hitting go a long way. Yankees are now 34-23 and 3 games above the Red Sox and O’s for the first place in AL East.
Mike coming up big
This is the finest start that Pineda’s ever thrown against the Red Sox – 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB and 8 K’s. It’s the first time ever that he’s gone 7 innings against Boston AND also the first that he allowed 0 ER in a start against them. How about that? Came at a good time too, when the Yankees are trying to extend the division lead against a rival. His offspeed pitches were working tonight, generating 12 whiffs overall between his changeup and slider (25.5% rate). 7 out of his 8 strikeouts were swinging as well. I like.
The only run that he allowed came via a runner reaching on an error and scoring on a passed ball. In the top of the fourth, with the Yankees leading 4-0, Xander Bogaerts reached when Chase Headley made a bad one-hop throw to Chris Carter that he couldn’t handle. Mitch Moreland followed it up with a sneaky bunt single against the shift, but Hanley Ramirez grounded into a double play to erase a chunk of the Sox threat. However, facing Jackie Bradley Jr., Pineda threw a fastball with a big cutting action that got past Gary Sanchez‘s mitt. The ball rolled into the backstop and Bogaerts was able to score easily. It was ruled a passed ball – Sanchez should’ve been able to catch that. Oh well. A minor blemish to a great start.
Anyways, after tonight’s dominant start, Pineda’s season stats improved to 7-3, 3.39 ERA in 71.2 IP with 17 walks and 75 K’s. Sure, there are worries about his long-ball tendencies but if he keeps those numbers up, Pineda will end up becoming a rich man in the free agency (assuming the Yankees don’t extend him by then). Before that, for now, let’s enjoy the improved Big Mike shoving it to the hitters more often this season.
There’s no denying that David Price is a top-tier MLB starting pitcher. However, ever since joining the Red Sox, the lefty has turned into a pumpkin when facing the Yankees. Tonight, the Yankees got 6 runs off of him in 5 innings. Since last year, they’ve pounded Price to a tune of 8.31 ERA in 34.1 IP. As someone sided with the Yankees, let me say this: this is fun.
The big blows by the Yankee bats tonight are mostly comprised of the three home runs – two by Gary Sanchez and one from Brett Gardner. With the Yankees leading 1-0, the bats got it going in the bottom of the third. Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday got on base with a single and a walk, respectively. Two hitters later, Sanchez hit a 87 mph pitch right down the middle into the right field seats for a no-doubt, 415 feet 3-run homer. 4-0 Yankees.
After the Red Sox added a run, the Yankees headed into the bottom of the fifth with a 4-1 lead. Sanchez changed that once again. This time, he hit a 96 mph fastball from Price into over the opposite field fence for a 2-run HR, making it 6-1 Yankees. After tonight, Sanchez is 4-for-7 with 4 HR’s against David Price.
Gardner joined in the big flies fun leading off the bottom of the eighth. The Yankees had a 7-1 lead going in with Starlin Castro adding an RBI single back in the sixth. Brett the Jet hit a breaking ball from Brandon Workman that traveled into the right field seats to make it 8-1 Yankees. Gardner’s power surge in 2017 has been… something. He has 13 home runs this season already, which is only 4 away from his career-high set in 2014. It is even more impressive that he did it in the past 160 PAs. The Yankees loaded the bases up in the frame with two singles (Aaron Hicks and Judge) and a HBP (Holliday), scratching a run out of it with a Castro’s fielder’s choice groundout. 9-1 Yankees, it is.
After Pineda departed, Adam Warren came in the eighth inning and pitched a clean frame. In the ninth, Girardi had Giovanny Gallegos pitch through the first two outs and put in Dellin Betances to get the last out. That was an interesting decision in his part. Bring in the closer in the top of the 9th with a 9-1 lead? The only explanation that I can think of is that Betances has only pitched in two games in the past two weeks and needs to get some game action somehow. Some will argue that if Girardi really wanted to get some work in for Betances, he would’ve let him start the inning. I don’t disagree. Just an interesting decision all-around but, in the grand scheme of things, Betances ended the game. 9-1 Yankees win.
Aaron Judge hasn’t homered much lately but man, he can still hit. Today, he had a 3-for-4 day with one of the base hits registering at 119.8 mph (!!!) off the bat. Judge has hit 7 balls over 116.0 mph this season and the rest of the big league has 12.
Box score, standings and WPA graph
The Yankees will host a 3-game series vs. Orioles this weekend. Tomorrow, they’ll have Jordan Montgomery up on the hill against Dylan Bundy.